Bury St Edmunds: Review of Abbeygate Street will look at vehicle access

Abbeygate Street.

Abbeygate Street. - Credit: Archant

A popular Bury St Edmunds shopping street which some believe could be safer for pedestrians will be subject to a review.

Suffolk County Council - the highways authority - is going to launch consultation on Abbeygate Street, which is open to traffic before 10am and after 4pm some of the time.

The issue was on the agenda of the borough council’s Bury St Edmunds area working party which met last week. Chair of the committee, councillor Robert Everitt, told the East Anglian Daily Times it is one of the best streets in the town, but the current restrictions “seem a little confusing”.

“It needs to be addressed for sure and the best way to do that is by doing a consultation,” he said.

Mr Everitt, who is Mayor of St Edmundsbury, added: “Personally, I think it needs to be pedestrianised.

“We have children from St James School coming out of town to go home at 4pm and they go into the sweet shop, and one minute past 4 the cars are going down there.”

He said he would be interested to hear what the townspeople think about the issue.

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Independent councillor David Nettleton added there was also an issue with cross traffic, for example from High Baxter Street, which could catch people “by surprise”.

“They are thinking it’s a pedestrianised street and all of a sudden there’s a car,” he said. “There are safety issues that need to be addressed.”

For John Deane-Bowers, who owns Trotter & Deane menswear shop in Abbeygate Street, people being able to access the street is a key issue, but he did not believe its vibrancy was dependent on traffic moving up and down it.

He added: “The street is vibrant now, a very good place to trade. I’m not aware of any real safety issues. I’m not aware of any bad accidents.”

Councillor Paul Hopfensperger believes there needs to be a plan for the whole town centre, but he added: “Abbeygate Street in its present form doesn’t work because people can walk down there until half-way and you have to stop because there’s cars crossing over.”

A Suffolk County Council spokeswoman said it was very early stages, but there would be a review of the closing times in Abbeygate Street. “We are in the process of having our consultants formulate a proposal for a consultation.”

A borough council spokesman said in Bury St Edmunds Vision 2031 there is a commitment to develop a masterplan for the town centre.